10,000 hours

Listening to Outliers has been on pause for several days, but I continue to mull some things over. Because they come more frequently and tend to pile up, I always try to get caught up on my podcasts (85-ish subscriptions) before I listen to any audiobooks. I blogged ages ago to share some of my favorites. Perhaps I will do another one sometime soon.

Something I was already thinking through before I started Gladwell’s work is the concept that to truly be an “expert” in a given field, one must spend at least 10,000 hours of practice and application in it. I had actually heard this from Dan Miller of “48 Days to the Work You Love” fame. That translates to about 5 years if you’re talking about full-time employment in the field, but it could telescope to be longer with part-time practice or shorter to account for intense periods of practice, such as an internship or college study. This 10,000 hour rule can account for Bill Gates rising to mega success, the programming genius behind Unix, Sun Microsystems, and Java becoming so adept as his craft, even the Beatles sounding so, so good.

When I first heard Dan Miller mention this truism (on his podcast, of course), I didn’t think much at the time. I was actually thinking, gosh, it will take me many years to rack up that much time as a video editor! Then a few weeks later, I was on a run near the gym. (I try to run outside at least once a week when the weather allows.) The thought occurred to me – I have spent at least 10,000 hours doing something and it’s part of why I think I’m pretty good at it. My 10,000-hour specialty? Volunteer youth ministry.

Folks years older than me, parents, and even paid youth ministry professionals returning to local church youth ministry as volunteers, have made comments hinting that I am something of a model. Trying to steer well clear of the extremes of false modesty and arrogance, I can confidently say that I must have a few things figured out, or I wouldn’t be finishing a second decade of (almost uninterrupted) volunteering with no lag in sight.

So what will I do about this? I’ve looked from time to time into possibilities as a full-time/ paid youth worker. In His mystery, God has allowed those doors to remain closed. For whatever reason, the path of the “paid-to-be-gooder” (a term I have heard from our pastoral staff at church) has not been cleared for me. Instead (and here I must credit fellow volunteer youth ministry blogger Dennis Beckner), I wholeheartedly embrace the journey as being “good for nothing.” (Reread that if you need to.)

But here’s the dilemma. This set of skills and aptitudes has been developed almost exclusively in unpaid settings. Yet I would love to explore how I could use my expertise in this field to generate revenue to contribute to our livelihood. I’ve got some ideas, and I think this blog will be a foundational piece of whatever puzzle this turns out to be. If you are or know a multibillionaire who is looking for an extremely worthy project to fund in perpetuity, by all means, give me a call. But seriously, what good is a blog if it’s not an open-ended conversation? What should I consider as I think this through? Ideas? Suggestions? Reality check?

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About andrew burden

andrew blogs about being a volunteer youth leader, teacher, video editor, husband, friend, child of God
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  • http://www.volunteeryouthministry.com Dennis Beckner

    For sure. I’d love to connect. If you send an e-mail to me at dbeckner(at)volunteeryouthministry.com, we can start the conversation. I look forward to it.

    • http://www.andrewburden.com andrew burden

      Dennis – I’ve tweaked my comment reply method. I’m seeing if the original commenter gets a notification. I will be spending the day with Katie Edwards tomorrow. She’s speaking to our volunteer team here in Kansas City.

      I’ll be emailing you sometime soon.

  • http://www.volunteeryouthministry.com Dennis Beckner

    For sure. I’d love to connect. If you send an e-mail to me at dbeckner(at)volunteeryouthministry.com, we can start the conversation. I look forward to it.

    • http://thisisnotabout.me andrew burden

      Dennis – I’ve tweaked my comment reply method. I’m seeing if the original commenter gets a notification. I will be spending the day with Katie Edwards tomorrow. She’s speaking to our volunteer team here in Kansas City.

      I’ll be emailing you sometime soon.

  • http://www.andrewburden.com andrew burden

    Dennis, I’d love to connect some time about your journey and vision for what you’re doing to resource volunteers. Seems like most of the resources are written for the full timers.

    Ron, Check out Dan Miller’s info at http://www.48days.com. Absorbing his material has helped me realize that passion and a paycheck need not be different things. I guess I don’t view the possibility of earning income via whatever this turns into as the same things as drawing a direct paycheck for ministry responsibilities within a church or ministry. But it will be interesting to see if my perspective changes as my role does.

  • http://thisisnotabout.me andrew burden

    Dennis, I’d love to connect some time about your journey and vision for what you’re doing to resource volunteers. Seems like most of the resources are written for the full timers.

    Ron, Check out Dan Miller’s info at http://www.48days.com. Absorbing his material has helped me realize that passion and a paycheck need not be different things. I guess I don’t view the possibility of earning income via whatever this turns into as the same things as drawing a direct paycheck for ministry responsibilities within a church or ministry. But it will be interesting to see if my perspective changes as my role does.

  • Side of BBQ

    There is always your mindset, will your thoughts, motivation, time, etc. change when it becomes your job instead of your passion?

    As a parent Thanks for all your time you spend with the Youth (even though it’s not mine). I wish more people would get involved.

    Look back on your working career and evaluate your jobs on how you felt at the beginning, later, and at the end or now. Did your feelings or motivation change along the way? If so How? If so Why?

    When anyone decides to mix pleasure with work I think they should evaluate more than the want to or need to, but consider their history of similar paths.

    It’s kinda like do you date your best friend, and take the risk of losing the friend. The reward could be even better then what you started with?

    You have a pretty interesting challenge ahead of you, I am sure that with all your work with the youth God’s reward for you will be plentiful.

    My Prayers are with you and your family during your journey.

  • Side of BBQ

    There is always your mindset, will your thoughts, motivation, time, etc. change when it becomes your job instead of your passion?

    As a parent Thanks for all your time you spend with the Youth (even though it’s not mine). I wish more people would get involved.

    Look back on your working career and evaluate your jobs on how you felt at the beginning, later, and at the end or now. Did your feelings or motivation change along the way? If so How? If so Why?

    When anyone decides to mix pleasure with work I think they should evaluate more than the want to or need to, but consider their history of similar paths.

    It’s kinda like do you date your best friend, and take the risk of losing the friend. The reward could be even better then what you started with?

    You have a pretty interesting challenge ahead of you, I am sure that with all your work with the youth God’s reward for you will be plentiful.

    My Prayers are with you and your family during your journey.

  • http://www.volunteeryouthministry.com Dennis Beckner

    We’re on the same page. I blog as a scratch pad for what I hope to one day publish. There have been a few things I’ve written then had published on various youth ministry websites (Simply Youth Ministry/Group, YMToday, Small Group Connection). It’s a great way to help other in-the-trenches volunteers while also honing your message.

  • http://www.volunteeryouthministry.com Dennis Beckner

    We’re on the same page. I blog as a scratch pad for what I hope to one day publish. There have been a few things I’ve written then had published on various youth ministry websites (Simply Youth Ministry/Group, YMToday, Small Group Connection). It’s a great way to help other in-the-trenches volunteers while also honing your message.

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